Mother and Let Mother

It amazes me how full of foul balls society is. On the one hand, it incessantly declares to working mothers how noble it would be if we decided to quit so we could stay at home and raise our children. On the other hand, it devalues the stay at home mother at every possible turn, barraging us with negative messages about our decision not to help financially support our family, not to be productive members of society, not to be significant in the world. Yes folks, like bats whacking the seams off of baseballs during the last inning of game seven of the world series, they smack us in the head for our most personal and innerly-conflictive choices. Just like in baseball, all of the spectators have their opinion of how the game should be played or who throws the meanest curve ball and they are not afraid to let those opinions be known.

Mothers feel the sting of society’s admonishment like baseball players in a losing game hear the echoes of boos throughout the field. The crux of the situation is that when we finally make the move over to the other side, the berating doesn’t end…the player gets traded to the good team which then, ironically, enters a losing streak, soliciting louder, more relentless boos. It isn’t so much that bad luck keeps placing us on the socially condemned side of motherhood at precisely the wrong moment in the pendulum swing as it is – – and this is so disappointing – –  that both sides are constantly bombarded with negativity and we tend only to hear the criticism aimed at the side we are presently on.  In this way, we can’t win no matter what we do. Obviously, neither can the other side. There’s a name for that, isn’t there?… What is that word again?…. Oh yeah, war.  😦

And here is the most profound truth of all: It’s self-inflicted, all of it. Because though there are many haters to be found in the stands during any given baseball game, oftentimes it is the players who pose the biggest threat to the game as well as to themselves. Bad sportsmanship and in-fighting on the field, self-destructive behavior and inside betting off the field and you’ve got yourself one volatile and potentially explosive environment. And, you see, so it is with motherhood. Inappropriately competitive behavior and jealousy on the field, impossible comparisons with others and unrealistic expectations of self off the field and mothers quickly become each others’ as well as our own worst enemies. The baseball season, though, eventually comes to an end. The players regroup and train hard for the upcoming season. They renegotiate contracts, rest injuries, and hold their breath in anticipation of the next Star-Spangled Banner. Mothers don’t get to regroup, receive no special training in advance of the changing seasons of their children’s lives, can’t freely negotiate the financial contracts we’ve been dealt, or rest our injuries… though during the Star-Spangled Banner we, too, are often left holding our breath in anticipation and with a prayer until the high note is successfully hit and the song has ended. After all, that’s someone’s kid up their singing. And moms, no matter which team they are on, are all about the kids.

In the end, moms, we are society. We are the admonishers, the head-smackers, the ones saying boo, the haters. Sure, others may have started this fire, pitting us against one another, but we do have a knack for keeping that flame burning – and it’s hot! In wanting, needing really, to do this beautiful job so perfectly and then to assert to the world that we have done so AND that we have done so, by golly, better than them… well, we essentially create a “them”. But, get this straight, we are an “us”. The best, most powerful “us” that ever was. Remember this. Share it often. That’s how important it is.

Keep your eyes on the ball. Divided we fall. It is, as was planned, that united we stand.

See you soon with a bowlful of wise and a bottle of fine rhyme. 😉

Children and Checkout Lanes

Grocery store checkout lanes. So harmless, right? Unless you are a mom with a few kids in tow. Are you perspiring right now just thinking about it? I’m a single mom now, but even when I was married I was that lady in the checkout lane with an overloaded cart and three small children talking to her, hanging on her, needing a million things at once from her in the sweetest possible way. Side note: I still can’t believe my eyes when I see husbands helping their wives (sans children) with shopping lists at the grocery store. I just can’t wrap my brain around the helplessness of that. One of you go or the other but not both, unless of course this is a romantic venture. I’m all about that. But it never appears to be. Because the men seem to fall into two categories –  slightly annoyed or slightly feminine, not that there’s anything wrong with either of those.

But I digress. Checkout lanes and children are a complex mix, aren’t they? Let’s call it what it really is – – a mini candy store. If you’re like me, you are not extreme in either direction regarding healthful eating. A candy or two every now and then (read: everyday) is okay with you. But there is so much more at play in the checkout lane. You’re about to spend a fortune for groceries, you can barely concentrate on getting the stuff out of that cart, heart beating wildly as you have that familiar thought “oh my God, tell me I brought my credit card” while digging in your pocket for a couple of wrinkled coupons, picking up a possibly passive-aggressively dropped sippy cup, answering your first grader’s profound non-candy related question, and greeting the cashier. And then it comes, your toddler’s query that sets off an explosive chain of questions from all of your children old enough to speak. And you are transported out of the moment. Because the fact is, even with all this going on in the here and now, all you can think about is how this decision is going to pave the way for the ideas and beliefs your children will have about this in the future – about money, about health, about giving in, about standing your ground, about being a mommy or a daddy, about what kind of a mommy YOU are, and yeah, even about candy. It’s amazing in that moment how many things you can connect the purchase of a candy bar to – all the future moments of your children’s lives seem to rest on it.

But, this is not true of the person behind you. They are right there in the checkout lane, nowhere else. There mind is completely clear and present. And regardless of the path you choose at that moment, to place that candy on the conveyor belt or not, I want to assure you that the person behind you will not agree with your decision. In fact, they will disdainfully and openly disagree with you (hint: the openly part is only true if you are stupid enough to make eye contact with them so don’t unless you like that kind of thing or are seasoned at this – – I admit I got very good at the stare down, the one that says “you got a problem with this?”).  But I tell you this disdain is especially true if that person happens to be a mom. Listen, you know that some moms would completely have your back. I understand this too. But, sadly for you it isn’t going to be that mom behind you. Statistically speaking, just saying.

So, what’s the lesson here? Mothering is about this very thing, that’s the lesson. Your forever job is to focus simultaneously on making your children’s lives everything they can be in the here and now, making your children’s lives everything they can be in the future, and doing all of this under the scrutiny of people who aren’t the parents of your children and don’t see inside your little Walter Mitty universe. Promise me you’ll do these things and do them with a smile. Again, this is your forever job. 🙂

I’ll leave you with a pertinent verse: Your young but in my mind I see you this way and another. I see you as a little child, prepare you for when you’re a mother. I try to live my life in ways you’ll proudly emulate. And you, my son, I  prep you to become an awesome mate. The choices that I make for you until you make your own, are made so very carefully because they’ll set the tone. For who you are, who you become, how happy your life will be.  Nothing hold’s a candle to how much this means to me.

Okay everyone, see you next time for a drop of wise and a hint of rhyme. 😉

Finally, I’m blogging!

Wow! Here I am – – finally blogging, finally free to write and share my ideas with the world. I’d love it if you’d read on to find out why this is so important to me (and you!).

I am a seasoned teacher (over twenty years experience) and mother (three children and a combined experience of 36 years – I’ll explain much more about this later!). Since I was very young, I have known two important things about myself: I have a talent for writing and I have a penchant for spreading wisdom. Since childhood, I have been said to have an old soul and as far back as I can remember I have been called “wise”. Not in a “ha ha, you kidder” kind of way though I definitely have some of that running through my veins too. Wise as in full of wisdom. And, generally, this wisdom has been ahead of my time, timely, and across a wide spectrum of topics. I can’t even tell you where this information in my head comes from but it is there, it is accurate, and it has served me well in life. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times when I seem to lose all common sense and, for the most part, I have absolutely no memory when it comes to historical events, factual information such as numbers, dates, etc. So I’m not a know-it-all. In fact, I tend to give my “advice” in a non-judgmental, I’ve been there kind of tone.

So you see where the wise comes into play. How about the rhymer? Well, I almost always have some kind of rhyme inside my head related to what is going on around me. It is something I cannot help. It happens to me when you are talking to me, when my favorite show is on, when I am trying to sleep. I was recently inundated with pictures of various friend’s snow scenes. Now, living in the south but having lived in the north as a child, those pictures have quite an effect on me. They make me feel very fickle. Hmmm, should I live in the south? Should I move back up north? Should I be grateful for my weather or jealous of theirs? At night, when I am desperately trying to sleep, this translates into an annoying and ongoing poetic rant such as: Why snow, you ask, why snow? The clear answer I do not know. To sled, you say, to sled. What if the grandeur’s all in my head? But it surely is pretty to view. It’s white, it’s fresh, it’s new. But the sun, it beckons me so. I’m really unsure about snow. See what I mean?

By now you have a pretty good sense of who I am and what my blog will be like. I hope you’ll come back so I can spread some wisdom and gain some from you as well. I look forward to comments and questions. In fact, I think discussion and inquiry will drive my blog. Thank you so much for checking in with and checking out a wisenrhymer like me. See you next time with some wise and some rhyme. 😉